How to treat common injuries in the backcountry.

Are you an avid hiker or backpacker?  Do you know what the common injuries are and how to treat them? Some of the most common injuries in the backcountry include ankle sprains, blisters and wounds.  Most of the time, these injuries can be prevented but other times you need to treat them.

I’ll be teaching a workshop at Adventure 16, Solana Beach on October 10, 2017.  In this information-packed workshop, you’ll learn how to prevent these common injuries, the signs and symptoms and backcountry treatment.  In addition, you’ll learn about essential items for your first aid kit.  Come ready to participate and practice some of these techniques with other people in the audience.

If you cannot attend the workshop, consider taking my Wilderness First Aid class.  For dates and registration visit


Why you should take a Wilderness First Aid class?

If you are an outdoor enthusiast that spends time hiking, paddling, climbing or camping, having the skills to help an injured person in the wilderness is essential. This course is great for people of all experience levels, and is best suited for those who recreate outdoors where EMS response can be expected in a timely manner (fewer than 8 hours).

You’ll learn the Patient Assessment System, how to provide effective first aid treatments for injuries and illnesses common in the outdoors, and how to make appropriate evacuation decisions. The curriculum also goes over Spine Injury, Head Injury, Shock, Wilderness Wound Management, Musculoskeletal Injury, Heat Illness, Cold Injury, Lightning, Altitude Illness, The Medical Patient and Anaphylaxis.

Below a video of the Patient Assessment, a fundamental tool taught in this course.

You can sign up for my next course here


4 things you didn’t know about your Stand Up Padleboarding Instructor Trainer, Jose H Gonzalez

1.  Have you been a trainer before? What qualifies you as a trainer?

I have experience developing instructors with Outward Bound’s Sailing program in Boston.  In addition, I have worked in academia in the Teacher Preparation program for over a decade training the next generation of secondary school teachers as well as PE teachers in Puerto Rico and New Hampshire.  With my doctorate in education with a focus on curriculum and instruction, I train SUP Instructor candidates in experiential education methodologies that will enhance their own trainings.

2.  Do you have a teaching philosophy?

My background in curriculum design and instruction has allowed me to selectively choose teaching and training models that best fit SUP and outdoor education.  That blend is based on the constructivist and pragmatic theories with a humanistic approach to it. This approach allows for student-centered instruction in a dynamic outdoor classroom, where students become teachers and teachers are always learning. Alongside the skill development, I hope new instructors take away teaching strategies and models.

3.  How many SUP Instructor trainings have you done?

 During the past 2 years I have taught 15 Instructor Certification courses in different parts of United States including Southern California, Maryland, Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Puerto Rico.  Below a list of the SUP Instructor Trainings I have conducted in the past two (2) years:

3/15/13 SUP L1 San Diego, CA


5/29/13 SUP L2 Boulder, CO

6/12/13 SUP L2 Los Angeles, CA

 8/16/13 SUP L2 Los Angeles, CA

 9/28/13 SUP Update Bend, OR

 12/5/13 SUP L1 San Juan, PR

 1/15/14 SUP L1 San Diego, CA

 4/8/14 SUP L2 San Juan, PR

 4/29/14 SUP L2 Sacramento, CA

 5/23/14 SUP L1 San Diego, CA

 6/10/14 SUP L2 Greenbrier Park, MD

SUP Fins 101

 6/17/14 SUP L2 Albuquerque, NM

 6/23/14 SUP L1 San Diego, CA

 1/21/15 SUP L2 San Diego, CA

 3/28/15 SUP L1 Aguadilla, PR

 6/15/15 SUP L2 San Diego, CA

 9/2/15 SUP L1 Los Angeles, CA

1/25/16 SUP L1 San Marcos, TX

4.  How do you stay up-to-date?

 Since the time I became an Instructor Trainer in SUP L2, I have developed my skills and knowledge of the sport. I have produced articles for REI’s blog, my personal blog and assisted other publications with my paddle sport expertise. In addition, as part of my self-guided professional development I bought the book from Steve West, Stand Up Paddler. A Paddler’s Guide and have incorporated his rich content in my teaching. Quickblade FlumeIn 2015, I scheduled a session with Jimmy Terrell from Quickblade in the flume and had a forward stroke analysis done on site. In my quest for acquiring more knowledge on the sport I visited the Future Fins factory, Brian Szymanski’s shaping room, SIC warehouse as well as Boardworks and SurfTech distribution centers. I have had several boards including the SIC 14′ Bullet, 9’3 Special Boardwork and the 8’11 Bic Wave. Last fall I attended the Outdoor Retailer show and was able to meet industry leaders and try the latest equipment. As a personal endeavor, I have raced in more than a dozen competitions including Battle of the Paddle, Pacific Paddle Games, HanoHano, Malibu Downwinder and San Clemente Ocean Festival. Lastly, I wanted to expand local coastal awareness and access and be the voice for all paddlers in San Diego so I helped a group of paddlers form the San Diego Water Trails Association.


A Cold Shower in the Morning!

Taking a cold shower in the morning is an unthinkable situation for many. Modern life has become addicted to certain luxuries (for some people) like pampering oneself at the spas, bathing in warm water, visiting beauty parlors, etc. that cold shower therapy has been almost forgotten. But all those who have tried bathing in cold water in the morning, enjoy amazing health benefits.

When I worked for Outward Bound we had our morning dip in the Maine ocean.  This morning protocol not only help us face the first challenge of the day, but also prepared us for the day ahead of us.  Now, that I do not spend time teaching sailing expeditions for Outward Bound anymore, my option is a morning cold shower.


Cold shower is a technique that has been used from ancient times to promote overall health. Here are some of the greatest advantages that anyone taking a cold shower especially in the morning can enjoy:

  1. Bathing in natural cold water springs and streams is highly effective in curing various diseases and is recognized as a form of hydrotherapy that is natural and cheap and easily accessible to all.
  2. If you can bear the cold water for a minimum of 10 minutes, you can boost your immune system and simultaneously flush out toxins from the skin and body.
  3. A cold shower improves blood circulation and helps in the growth and repair of the circulatory system of the body.
  4. When you bathe in hot water, the pores of the skin are exposed to the harmful elements like chlorine and others from the soap, etc. present in water. A cold shower keeps the pores closed and thus protected from the environmental damages. The skin retains its quality and luster.
  5. It helps to maintain balance in the automatic nervous system. Acting as an anti-depressant, a cold shower enhances mood and reduces stress and anxiety as the nerves become calm after the cold shower.
  6. It has been found that a cold shower in the morning increases fertility strength in men. It is considered as one of the most important anti-aging secrets that keeps the skin from sagging and retains the elasticity and glow of youthful skin.
  7. Standing under the cold shower especially on winter mornings requires great courage and once you can overcome your fears in the process, you gradually increase your will power and have courage to face all problems with confidence.
  8. The ability to fight against and bear with all kinds of temperature and climatic conditions increases and it helps to get rid of negative forces as well as emotions that often cause hindrances to success.

Give it a try and if you can take a cold shower one day, you will surely succeed in doing it every day and enjoy all the health benefits for life.

Reflecting on my challenge course professional experience (Part 1)

As I put the finishing touches on the ACCT pre-conference workshop , I went down memory lane on the path that I have taken through challenge courses and corporate teambuildings.   I was first introduced to a challenge course in 1991 when I was working for the Boy Scouts in a camp in Puerto Rico called Guajataca Scout Reservation.  Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience (COPE) is the name the Boy Scouts gave to the experience that consisted of cables hanging from trees with wooden ladders and other obstacles. Rudimentary beginnings…. But inspiring.  I worked there until 1997, facilitating mostly during the summers and some weekends. 

DSC_0085.JPGIn 1999, I joined the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School’s Sea Program. They had a challenge course with both dynamic and static elements next to the climbing site, an old quarry.  In every sailing expedition we will spend time at Hurricane Island, doing a half day in the challenge course and half day of rock-climbing among other activities. 

Look for 2 more blog posts (part 2 & 3) in the coming weeks.  Until then…

San Diego Water Trail Association

I am helping establish an association that will advocate, promote, protect and educate about public access to San Diego’s waterways including the shoreline, launching and landing areas and the marine trails used for outdoor recreation in human-powered watercrafts.


It is hard to believe that San Diego does not have a water trail association yet, with almost perfect weather year-round and beautiful coastline and bays.

Join us!

SUP Paddle options

If you look in my garage right now, you’ll see several paddles, but essentially it comes down to two main paddles, one for surfing and one for ocean/flat water paddling.  Paddle choice is just as personal as board choice, and you should feel just as particular about it.

The basic criteria I use when selecting a paddle is the paddle blade size and the flex/stiffness of the paddle. My SUP surfing paddle blade area is wide, to displace more volume per stroke.  While my ocean/flat water paddle blade has a tall narrow blade. This is to increase my stroke rate, something you’ll care more about as you get better and faster.   For surfing my paddle length (measurement top to bottom) is only 4 inches taller than me.  I spend a lot of time in my surfing stance, that keeps me low towards the water and therefore I do not need a tall paddle.  For flat water/ocean paddling, since my board keeps me only 2 inches above the waterline, my primary paddle is 8 inches taller than me.

Don’t underestimate the important details when you choose your paddle, a lot of people get obsessive about their board and then choose a paddle that doesn’t serve them equally well.

Read about the rest of my quiver at this REI blog post

See you on the water!

Stand Up Paddleboarding for fitness

I was glad to contribute to an article that focuses on the fitness benefits of Stand Up Paddleboarding. The Active Times published an article titled: “Why Stand-Up Paddleboarding is Actually a Killer Workout”. In this article they explain why paddling, specifically SUP, can improve your overall fitness. Let me know what you think after you read the article.

My WMI ITC Application letter

Some of my subscribers have asked me what did I write in my application letter for the Wilderness Medicine Institute at NOLS.  Below you can see some of the highlights of my cover letter.

I consider myself an eclectic outdoor educator.  As you can see in my resume I have demonstrate proficiency in different field skills including: rockclimbing, backpacking, mountain biking, snow shoeing, sea kayaking, sailing, SCUBA, canoeing and challenge course management.  My academic background is in Biology; which helps me understand and teach about human physiology as it related to wilderness medicine.  Also, I have a Masters degree in Outdoor Pursuits Recreation Administration, which helps me achieve the WMI-NOLS goals due to my understanding of the outdoor pursuits. My native language is Spanish, but also I feel very comfortable with articulating myself in English. I have a doctoral degree in Education, with a concentration in curriculum and instruction from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. Also, I have been teaching at the college level for the last ten years in the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico and at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire.  Some of the courses I have taught are in outdoor recreation, wellness, health and the Education department’s Teacher Preparation program.

Because of my commitment and dedication to both education and outdoor experiences, I have held a variety of positions in well-renowned organizations and institutions. I have worked for different Outward Bound schools for the last several years, delivering adventure education programming and developing new courses like the Caribbean Semester course established in 2004. In addition, for the last three summers I have been working for Dartmouth College Outdoor Programs delivering experiential education programs to the undergraduate and graduate student population in their newly built challenge course.  Last year, I was invited to be part of the AEE National Standards review team.  This volunteer position allows me to serve AEE and to use my expertise in risk management in assessing other programs across the country.   Most recently, I conducted the Thompson Island Outward Bound Annual Safety Review for their environmental program following the Outward Bound USA Safety Standards.

My wilderness patient care experience extends to being the EMT for 80 teenagers at Sail Caribbean for 70 days, lead first responder for Mead Wilderness Base, and medical officer for all my Outward Bound expeditions. Please refer to my attached Expedition Resume for detailed responsibilities and duties.  Below, I will briefly describe chronologically my professional outdoor experiences, personal expeditions, one medical incident that I was involved as the first responder and my teaching experience in the outdoor and indoor classroom.

During the summers of 1989-92 I worked for Guajataka Scout Reservation doing canoeing, backpacking and rock climbing five days expeditions.  All the expeditions were self-supported.  Most of them took place in the rainforest and Guajataka Lake of Puerto Rico.  During the summers of 1993-95 I worked for Mead Wilderness Base located in Center Sandwich, New Hampshire.  At MWB I delivered backpacking expeditions in the Presidential Range of NH and rockclimbing experiences in Pawtuckaway, NH among other expedition elements(see resume).   During the summer of 1997 I conducted  scientific research on MonaIsland (  I was studying the population of the endemic Mona island iguana (see expedition resume).  During the spring of 1997, I joined Encantos Ecotour in which I taught marine science and lead tourism trip.  In addition I was in charge of running the southwest branch located in Copamarina Resort, Puerto Rico.  In 1999, I started working for the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School located in Maine. I worked for the Maine Sea program as well as the Florida Sea program as assitant instructor and instructor.  The summers of 2000 and 2002 I worked for Sail Caribbean (  in the BVI and the Leeward Islands.  I worked as a captain and assistant program director (see resume). Also I delivered their advanced leadership program in the Windward Islands sailing a 50 foot boat unsupported for 18 days and then double-handed the delivery of the boat from Grenada to Antigua.

In 2001, I taught for HIOBS during the spring and summer seasons as an instructor for the Florida and Maine sea program. In 2003, 2004 and 2005 I instructed for Thompson Island Outward Bound in their sea program and I was invited to do the watch officer training in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010. Other instructing opportunities that I have had have been with the HooverOutdoorEducationalCenter in Yorkville, Illinois (see resume for more details).  In addition, I developed and implemented a Leave No Trace workshop for Oak Brook Park District in Illinois as part of their Earth Day celebration.   Also as part of the graduate student population in AuroraUniversity, I taught orienteering skills to undergraduate students as part of a 3-credit class during the fall semester of 2000.  In 2003, I came back to my native land Puerto Rico and started an adventure based experiential education company.  Aire Libre ( is the name of the company and we have delivered more than 400 programs so far, ranging from corporate teambuilding’s to week long leadership programs for youth in the Spanish Virgin Islands.  We are committed to introducing Leave No Trace practices to the community of Puerto Rico as well as a new understanding and set of skills for the greater appreciation of the island.    Also in 2003, I started lecturing at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico.  One of the courses I enjoyed the most was HPER 2220 Outdoor Recreation because of the balance between theory and practice that course presents and an opportunity to shape & build a thorough curriculum in a developing field for Puerto Rico.

As far as personal expeditions, I did several extended land trips in the rain forest of Puerto Rico with my college friends during the years of 1992-1996.  Some of these trips include a 10-day backpacking trip from one end of the island to the other, several 3-day bush-whacking through the GuajatakaRiver and rafting with non-commercial watercraft in different shallow rivers of Puerto Rico.  I have also sailed an O’Day 25’ sailboat many times on my own as part of the maintenance and care of the boat during my days working for Encantos Ecotour.  I had a Hobbie 14 sailboat in which I took some solo overnight trips to different mangrove island in the south end of Puerto Rico.  Some of these trips included night sailing as well as overnight camping.  Also, I helped sail a Sabre 30’ sailboat from the Marathon, Fl, to the Bahamas and spent several days cruising with my friends in the Bahamas (see expedition resume).  I have done some more personal hiking, rock climbing and camping trips (see expedition resume).

Lessons learned: Working for Mead Wilderness Base on a 5-day biking trip, the first day I had an incident.  I briefed my students about safety and proper bike use before we all went down a steep hill.  The co-instructor was at the end of the group while I was leading the group.  Probably, five minutes after I started descending, I was hit by one of my students who had been hit by another one.  In just a couple of seconds the three of us crashed into the ground.  I called the student’s name that lost control first and he responded fine.  Then I called out the other student and he did not respond. I approached him and found him unconscious with his helmet broken in half.  I assessed the situation and offered the appropriate first aid.  The ambulance came shortly and we all ended up at the hospital.  I found out that I had a broken wrist at the hospital.

I hope this helps you create your own application letter for the WMI ITC!

Workout efficiency

 Jose mt biking

The workouts that are performed under normal outdoor conditions are more difficult than those performed in controlled internal environments. This means that the workout output and benefits of running outdoors can never be replicated by running on a treadmill. Research studies that have been conducted throw light on the fact that for the same parameters (speed and gradient) the energy expended on a treadmill is lower than that expended while running outdoors. This may perhaps be due to the inherent running mechanism involved as well as due to increased drag or resistance experienced in outdoor conditions. A study in the late 90’s conducted by scientists in UK stated that a 1% gradient accurately reflected the energy expenditure of running outdoors when speed and distance are same in both cases. Similar results have been seen in other activities such as cycling.